Lighting Candles

I am sitting on the balcony of my apartment. It’s my last day in Barcelona. Looking down Carrer dels Assaonadors I see laundry gently blowing in a breeze, airing out. Plants fill some of the balconies, and vines cascade down towards the street. This is one of those bittersweet moments in life, where I know I am sad to leave, but happy to return home.

I drank plenty extra at lunch today. It has helped make me feel more relaxed and fluid. This trip has been the best thing I have ever done for myself, and I realize how important it is to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is work, and both simple and difficult. It’s taking care of yourself physically, but emotionally and mentally too. Knowing when you need a break, knowing when it’s ok to cry, and knowing when you need to laugh. It’s also knowing when to stop crying, stop worrying, stop fixating, and pay attention to the life that is right in front of you. It’s allowing yourself to feel pride in the things you do, in your work, and finding joy in simple things.

Today I sat on a street bench in El Born and thoroughly enjoyed a cafe con leche and a croissant mascarpone. That’s all I did. I sat, ate, sipped. I took notes in my journal because it was the best croissant I have ever had, ever! I can only wish to find a better croissant in my life.

I started a tradition about five years ago to give myself a birthday gift each year. At the time I had started to learn that you can’t rely on anyone else to give you what you want (unless you tell them, and even then, it may not meet your expectations). There are some things that no one else can give you. I’ve given myself sunglasses, an expensive purse, a spa day, a new laptop… but there was nothing better than giving myself this opportunity to travel and live, for a short while, in a place that I had never been. No one else could do that for me. Someone could have bought my ticket for me, or helped me plan the details, but the real meat of the trip—what has really mattered—is how I approached each day, hoping to learn something new.

Being here has kept me from being fixated on feeling alone, and worrying about things I can’t change. Feeling crappy about how you’re alone, and you’re not married, and you have no children, and no one you’ve dated has been remotely interesting, and no one you meet seems to be interested in you? Who. Cares. Worrying that you’re getting older, and maybe you’re not saving enough money, or maybe you could be a better friend, or a better daughter… By being fixated on something you can’t change, you’re magnifying a problem that isn’t any problem at all. And worrying, without making a change, is a pebble you stubbornly refuse to take out of your shoe.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Barcelona thinking about the people I care about, and the people I’ve cared about. I visited the Barcelona Cathedral today. There was an area outside, a little garden plaza, with small chapels for different saints. Something overcame me, and I bought votive candles from their little shop and lit three of them to honor people who have mattered in my life. I’m not very religious, but there are times where I get a feeling like lighting a candle or saying a prayer will be a good thing. And then I forgot the words to Hail Mary… seriously. So I made up my own private prayer for each person, wishing one health, another joy and wonder, and to the last person, peace.

The happier YOU are, the happier the people you surround yourself with will feel. You’ll have that feeling of optimism and calm and happiness seeping out its energy into everything around you. And the more you curate happiness, the more you will draw it towards you.

So will I never feel alone again? No, I definitely will. I will have nights where I go to bed crying. I will have days when the past sneaks up on me and makes me feel guilt and regret. But what’s stronger now, is this memory that I was able to leave my home, on my own, and have the best time of my life (SO FAR!) in Barcelona. This memory is the fourth candle I lit today, and it sits in my own heart bringing light and happiness to my world and yours.